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Light of Christ Lutheran Church in Turlock, CA

Pastor's Thoughts for December 2008


Each month our pastor writes to us from our Turlock church to share his thoughts on a topic of religious significance. His goal is to link the word of God as it is presented in the Bible and apply it to the context of our daily lives. Although each of these messages is dated they are in fact timeless in their spiritual significance.

Christmas Message

The impressive words of Luke’s second chapter have been repeated over and over again in the past few weeks by radio, television, and the press. The story of our lord's birth is familiar to almost everyone.

There is no more beautiful passage of scripture than John’s first chapter to tell us of that joy. Maybe this is the message the department stores ought to play over and over again as they push their wares upon us. John calls Christ “the Word” which, if you note carefully, in the Bible is capitalized. In other words, he is saying that this Word is a living Word, not spoken or printed word. He is telling us about the great God who gives us our life. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God … and the Word became flesh and lived among us. And right there is the Christmas message.

John identifies this Word made flesh, the Christ child born in a manger, with the work of creation. “All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” In the beginning of time when the Father brought this vast universe into being, and the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters, this Jesus, who was made flesh in Bethlehem, shared in that mighty work of creation. Together, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, He spoke “let there be” and all that exists came to be. And now, wonder of wonders, this eternal Son of God, and creator of the universe Himself, became a creature, flesh, like one of us. How mysterious and exciting! Paul thought so too, when he wrote, “Great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifest in the flesh.”

Light and life belong together. Christ is the life, and he is also “the light”. But what does that mean?

It means that he takes away the darkness that surrounds us and replaces it with light. And, of course, the words which stand in contrast here are light and darkness.

In the last few years it has been said that scientists now believe, from what they have observed from nature, that the sequence of the creation story is pretty accurate. In other words, the order of creation recorded in Genesis is appropriate. That story in the Bible reverses the process of nature as we have thought about it in the past. We have learned how the light, and all source of light to us on this earth, is from the sun. Accounts of evolution and other theories lead us to think, whether we are aware of it or not, that the sun is the center of life. But here in Genesis we read that God, first of all, created light. Then he created the firmament. Later in the 16th verse he says: "And God made the two great lights, the greater to rule the day and the lesser to rule the night."

Now, even the ancient writer could hardly have been so blind and innocent to have failed to see that light comes from the sun. So when he placed the creation of light before the creation of the sun and moon, he must have intended to say something quite specific, which he could not say in any other way.

And of course, in scripture, darkness is identified with sin. Christ's purpose in coming was to deliver us from the darkness of sin and death.

For you and me the ancient prophecy has been fulfilled. This is our greatest of all Christmas gifts. In our world of darkness, we have light. That light shines in our darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

-Pastor Starkey